Belle was challenged this week by Grandma to bake something that was not dessert, so she flipped through her kid cookbook of global cuisine again and found a recipe for sausage rolls. Puff pastry and sausage? Yum. Mama did a little digging, though, because it looked like it had probably been simplified a bit from traditional preparation. And yes, it had. Apparently, Australian mums use sausage rolls as a way to sneak vegetables into their children’s meals and I am all about that, ladies. Grating carrots is a good gross motor activity anyway.
This is really the first recipe where Belle has worked with raw meat – typically we’ve told her to not touch it because it could make her sick. At nearly four, though, she’s old enough to not put her fingers in her mouth or on other surfaces without first washing with soap, so it became a big recurring theme during this recipe. (Having a stool set up at the sink and at her work station would have been helpful for me, so I could have ferried it around the kitchen less, but so it goes!)
Raw meat has a slimy texture that Belle really wasn’t enthusiastic about, and ground meat tends to stick in chunks when you add things into it. She tried for a long time without much success to use a hand mixer’s beater to “whisk” the vegetables and spices in, but it just was not working. Our conversation went something like this:
“Belle, try using your hands to squish the carrots into the sausage.”
“No, it’s yucky.”
“Let me show you – see how when you knead it in, your hands get yucky, but the vegetables stop sticking to the bowl? Then when I’m done, I go wash my hands before I touch anything else.”
“Welllll…maybe a little.” (She pokes with a finger.) “Maybe I can poke the carrot in. Mommy, maybe the next patch [batch] we don’t put vegetables in.” (I agreed, we made it again with garlic powder and no vegetables; it was not as good.)
Round and round in circles we went before she was brave enough to get down and dirty with the meat, at which point she was fine, of course, and the meat and veg were mostly mixed. So it goes. Fortunately, Belle was not squeamish at all about washing her hands thoroughly, since we’ve practiced that for years before and after meals. She does have newly long nails (having recently stopped biting them), so we got to talk about how germs can get caught under her nails. I showed her how I scrub my nails in the opposite palm to make sure soap suds get under my nails, then rinse, and how she could do the same after washing the palms, backs and sides of her hands and between her fingers. I’m pretty sure she still thinks germs are sentient and visible when you look at a dirty spot, rather than viruses and bacteria that need a vector (like us) to multiply and cause sickness, but whatever – if we can convince her that she needs to see the soap bubbles cover everything to kill the yucky germs so we stay healthy, then we will use all the soap to make all the bubbles to kill all the germs.
“But Mommy, what would happen if I didn’t wash my hands?” The germs would go from your hands to the counter you’re touching and then when we make Grandpa an English muffin, they’d get on his English muffin and make him sick.
“But Mommy, what would happen if I gave Grandma some of the sausage roll?” She’d love it, but only if it was already cooked, because if it’s not cooked, it could make her sick, because the meat would still be raw and raw meat has germs.
Moving on, we also used these sausage rolls as a springboard to look at Australia (which had recently caught our interest with kangaroos in our Little Passports: Early Explorers box). We will definitely be circling back to Australia, with plans to bake lamingtons and Anzac biscuits, and to mark Anzac Day in late April, but for now, we broke out Papa’s didgeridoo (Buddy loves this fun instrument that is only about $30 on Amazon, but do not expect it to sound anything like the expert players on YouTube), talked about the Great Barrier Reef, and reviewed Australia’s wildlife – kangaroos, koala bears, emus, and cassowaries (flightless birds are a recurring interest).
Skills worked on:
- Kitchen safety: raw meat hygiene
- Kitchen safety: hand washing
- Gross motor coordination: grating
- Unit studies: Australia
- Food prep!
- rolling pin
- box grater or food processor
- chopping knife (if not using food processor)
- mixing bowl plus 2 prep bowls for egg wash and chopped veggies
- whisk or fork
- pizza wheel, pastry cutter, or sharp paring knife
- vegetable peeler
- butter knife
- parchment paper
- kitchen scale (optional, used for weighing out sausage because we had a ton in the same package)
- pastry brush (you could use fingers if you don’t have one)
- sifter (optional, for sprinkling)
This recipe started with the ratios in Cooking Class: Global Feast and was significantly influenced by various google searches, especially with the addition of vegetables.
Recipe (1 hr prep, 20-25 min bake, yield: 4-5 dozen 1-2″ rolls):
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 1 lb sausage without casings
- ground pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/2 medium onion, grated or diced
- 1-2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 egg plus 1 tsp water
- Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Thaw 2 sheets puff pastry.
- Peel and grate one carrot, and chop 1/2 medium onion and 4 cloves of garlic. Alternatively, peel vegetables and pulse food processor til finely diced.
- Add vegetables to 1 lb sausage in large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, and 3/4 tsp paprika. Mix with hands or with large spoon.
- Roll out the pastry, then use a pizza wheel, pastry cutter, or sharp knife to divide the pastry into thirds.
- Using half the sausage, mold a sausage log down the center of each section of pastry, then use a butter knife to lift the pastry and seal it over the logs. Flip the pastry logs seal-side down.
- Cut the logs into sections 1.5-2″ long and place on the cookie sheets.
- Repeat steps 5-7 with the second sheet of pastry and the other half of the sausage.
- Beat together 1 egg and 1 tsp water using a whisk or fork, then brush it onto the top of each sausage roll. Discard extra egg wash.
- Sprinkle paprika on the top of each roll and bake for 20-25 min, until sausage is cooked through and the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm, with optional ketchup or barbecue sauce for dipping.
Notes: Most low-moisture vegetables will work as substitutes, so if you don’t have carrots, grab whatever root vegetable is in the fridge. Greens and mushrooms would taste good but should be sauteed/wilted and drained on a paper towel before adding to the sausage, or you risk very soggy pastry bottoms. Hot, sweet, or sage sausage would all be delicious (we used hot Italian sausage). We don’t recommend skipping the parchment – we lost half the bottoms that way. Sausage rolls can be much longer with similar bake times (score the top of the pastry for venting), but if you add thickness, use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature hits 165 deg F.
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